Oregon Trail anniversary prompts epic road trip

view of road and trees and mountains
Oregon is filled with mountains and forests and beautiful views on a road trip.

This year marks 175 years since the first large, organized group of pioneers left Missouri on wagon trains to head out to the Great American West.

It was 1843 and much of the country was still trying to recover from economic woes. But it cost a lot to make the trip out west, so it wasn’t poor folks who were planning their own epic journeys.

pioneer wagon
Pioneers traveled in covered wagons like these, actually walking most of the time as the wagon held all their provisions for the trip and whatever they couldn’t part with from back home.

 

And then there was the question of Manifest Destiny, the 19th Century belief that it was part of the grand scheme that citizens of this new country should take over the rest of the continent, from sea to shining sea.

I was lucky enough to get a chance to explore some places where those American adventurers visited. You can actually walk in the ruts created by all those wagon trains and pioneers.

walking in wagon ruts
These ruts near Baker City, Oregon, were created by the hundreds of thousands of pioneers who made the trek out to the American West in the 19th Century. You can walk in the ruts, and follow their path, today.

Read more about my epic road trip, and more importantly, about the epic journey of the pioneers, in this story I wrote for the Chicago Tribune.

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